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13 June, 2008

Represent

Of those people publicly praising the ex-Shadow Home Secretary for resigning yesterday over the issue of detention without charge, most have commended his acting according to personal principles.  For precisely that reason, I disagree.

In principle, a Member of Parliament is elected to represent a constituency: to consider the wishes of people in his/her designated geographical area, including minorities, then act according to those wishes, not solely his/her own opinions. Personal views may inform decisions, of course, but I don't feel it's legitimate for an MP to put moral convictions ahead of reasoned argument and constituents' opinions. A MP sits in Parliament as a representative, not as a private individual.

An even more obvious example was the ex-Prime Minister, who took the UK into an illegal war because he, personally, felt it was "the right thing to do". That may have been a justification for him, alone, to have bought a rifle and an airline ticket to Baghdad, but when speaking for an entire nation, his personal opinion was, well, not irrelevant, but certainly low in the order of priority.

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